Government shutdown may affect Wisconsin’s WIC program

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- How will the government shutdown affect Wisconsin's WIC program? FOX6 News has learned it depends on who you ask!

The concern stems from a USDA memo stating that during a shutdown, there would be no federal funding available for WIC, which provides food vouchers and nutrition counseling to families in need.

Sherrie Tussler at the Hunger Task Force says the government shutdown may not immediately affect WIC families, but that could change, and soon!

"You got food vouchers, they're good, go spend them, use them to get the healthy foods you need for you, yourself, and your children but understand that into the near future, WIC vouchers may not be available," Tussler said.

At "Seeds of Health" on the city's south side, WIC Director Christine Murr says on Tuesday, October 1st, families were asking the most basic of questions.

"We have had a few calls. A couple have called and said 'are you open?' And the answer is yes, come on in," Murr said.

Murr says right now, she isn't worried about the lack of new federal funding. For now, states will use reserve dollars to pay for new WIC checks, and Murr says the Badger State is in good shape.

"Every state is different and Wisconsin is prepared to continue business as usual with funding left over from last year, a small amount -- and plus the infant formula rebates, and we're prepared to stay open for at least the next two to three weeks," Murr said.

Tussler says even if WIC gets through the shutdown unharmed, other programs could still suffer. She cites "stackboxes" which are delivered monthly to seniors. Tussler says the next shipment of food is set to arrive in two weeks, and if the government is still closed, those supplies will sit in a Kansas City warehouse.

Tussler says she does have enough food on hand to keep sending out those "stackboxes" through the middle of December.

However, if they don't get their regularly scheduled shipment, that would affect the amount of food they can distribute to smaller area pantries.